On Christmas Eve, my father would sit on the couch in his pajamas and searsucker robe, with my sister and me on either side of him, and begin The Night Before Christmas. His reading glasses went halfway down his nose, so he could both read the words and look us in the eye as he spun the tale. A dramatic storyteller, he made each telling seem new and enthralling. By the time we got to the last page in the book we grew up with—one of the Big Golden Books—half of it was torn, and the last two lines weren’t there. My father didn’t need them. He’d close the book and with the biggest smile on his face he’d say “But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight/Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”
I have that tattered book still, and read it to Cherisse every Christmas Eve, remembering Christmases past.